Fasting for Ramadan

Kazim Ali's searching descriptions of the Ramadan sensibility and its arduous but liberating annual rite of communal fasting is sure to be a revelation to many readers — intellectually illuminating and aesthetically exhilarating.

Fasting for Ramadan is structured as a chronicle of daily meditations, during two cycles of the 30-day rite of daytime abstinence required by Ramadan for purgation and prayer. Estranged in certain ways from his family's cultural traditions when he was younger, Ali has in recent years re-embraced the Ramadan ritual, and brings to this rediscovery an extraordinary delicacy of reflection, a powerfully inquiring mind, and the linguistic precision and ardor of a superb poet.


Kazim Ali—a writer whose powers astonish in everything he puts pen to—has made in Fasting for Ramadan a book that is hybrid, peregrine, and deeply, quietly revelatory. Ali’s meditations on the month-long ritual fast unfold, across cultures and spiritual practices, the deep meaning of a chosen foregoing. These journal-born pages are both intimate and public, at once ecumenical, particular, daily, and eloquently learned; planted on the deep roots of tradition, they breathe this moment’s air. Is it possible for a work to be at once modest and an undeniable tour de force? This book proves: it is.
—Jane Hirshfield, author of Come, Thief: Poems and After, which was named a "Best Book of 2006" by The Washington Post

Fasting for Ramadan is a remarkable book: an intensely personal meditation — shot through with poetry, philosophy, revelation, and doubt — on one of the world's great spiritual practices.
—Toby Lester, Atlantic contributing editor and author of The Fourth Part of the World

[A]n important book…. Written 'in that third voice, a voice between two people, neither one nor the other, neither embodied nor disembodied.' I have wanted to know what fasting in Islam involves…to admire its intentions and effects in solitude…. I hope that multitudes will find their way to [this book].
—Fanny Howe , author of The Winter Sun: Notes on a Vocation and Radical Love



Fasting for Ramadan by Kazim Ali